Not on my Watch!
As many of you may have learned from the Harvard cheating scandal recently, character is about more than following rules. Character has to do with the kind of person I want to be—or not want to be.
It’s interesting how surprised many of the students and faculty at Harvard are by the scope of this cheating scandal because they believed that Ivy League schools were different from other schools. I guess not. What is also interesting is how many students accused of cheating are trying to rationalize their conduct by claiming the teacher did not fulfill the expectations they had for the class, or that instructions for what was “considered inappropriate sharing of information among classmates were unclear and contradictory”. At least Jay Harris, dean of undergraduate education seems to understand the issue a bit more saying,
“Without integrity, there can be no genuine achievement, either at Harvard or anywhere else”. Amen to that.
As much as we’d like to believe this is an isolated incident, it is not. The fact is that cheating is widespread and has continued to grow dramatically over the last fifty years. One revealed that two thirds of middle-schoolers reported cheating on exams, while 9 out of 10 reported copying another's homework—and saw nothing wrong with it. Another poll of the 1998 Who's Who Among American High School Students found that 80% of the country's best students cheated to get to the top of their class. More than half the students surveyed said they don't think cheating is a big deal – and most did not get caught.
Cheating is increasingly viewed as not a ‘big deal’. Character is no longer an issue—only “what can I get away with”, or “the rules don’t really apply to me in this case”. What is your own view of cheating? How do you model and teach integrity of character to your grandchildren?
When it comes to teaching the truth about character, it is not about the rules, but about the kind of person we are. It takes real courage to be a person of honesty and integrity. It also takes some courage to stand against the tide and let our grandchildren know how important character is in every area of life. When we attempt to excuse or rationalize, we are merely reflecting what one writer called “the stuff of lawyers”.
May God give us courage and wisdom to show our grandchildren the stuff of Christ instead of the stuff of lawyers. Now is a good time to sit down with your grandchildren and talk about integrity, character and honesty. Help them understand the value and necessity of these virtues, not only for success in life, but for building a reputation that honors God and others. Read good biographies together and talk about what separates people of integrity from others.
GRANDPAUSE: Our strength is seen in the things we stand for; our weakness is seen in the things we fall for. -Theodore Epp
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